Home > India, Politics > India’s Election Commission gets techie arrested

India’s Election Commission gets techie arrested

 S.Y. Quraishi  - India's Chief Election Commissioner.

S.Y. Quraishi - India's Chief Election Commissioner.

A city-based computer engineer who demonstrated the vulnerability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to tampering was taken into custody by the Mumbai police from his residence in Madhapur locality here on Saturday morning.

The Mumbai police was investigating the case of a ‘missing EVM’ from the Mumbai collectorate and the same machine was reportedly used for the ‘vulnerability demonstration’ by the technologist, Hari K. Prasad, in April last.

Mr. Prasad, managing director of a Hyderabad-based technology firm NetIndia, had taken the help of two other researchers – a Michigan University professor J. Alex Halderman and a Holland-based technology activist Rop Gonggrijp, to demonstrate that EVMs used in India could be tampered by altering small components of the machine.

The researchers had used a genuine EVM in their ‘vulnerability demonstration’ on April 28 and the Election Commission of India had then rejected the claim outright. After video footage of the demonstration showed the serial number of the EVM, authorities found that one of the EVMs in Mumbai collectorate was ‘stolen’ and a case registered in MRA Marg station on May 13. (via The Hindu : Today’s Paper News : Missing EVM: techie arrested).

Hari K. Prasad - The techie who was picked upf ro exposing the EVM vulnerability.

Hari K. Prasad - The techie who was picked up for exposing the EVM vulnerability.

This is strange

The Indian Election Commission should have invited these people for pointing out the fallibility of these machines and collaborated to find ways to ensure that election rigging does not happen.

It must be pointed out that that Mumbai police had earlier served a notice on him on August 6 asking him to appear before them. He could have easily applied for an anticipatory bail and appeared before the police. Seems like a case bad legal advice!

Indian oligarchy takes over

For the last 1 year, there has been a rising chorus that India is a becoming a police state and power is being handed over to an oligarchy. India seemed so unlike the US with a prison population of 20 lakh people. With harmless people like Vikram Buddhi languishing in US prison for the last few years.

Instead of public sector, a new oligarchy is taking over India. It is an unholy collusion between the rich and the powerful. What seemed like a retreat of the State seems to be now simply a privatization of power. What was earlier being managed by the ‘inefficient’ public sector has now been rented out to the ‘effective’ private sector.

India has to be ‘modern’ ‘efficient’ – and vindictive

The Electronic Voting Machines were a movement towards this ‘efficiency’.All that is needed is a printer attachment which will give a paper-printout of the ballot. This printout must also be put in a ballot box. A random audit in case of a suspected fraud will become fool-proof.

Is this a simple case of a few days of custodial interrogation to put the fear of the State into such ‘loose cannons’ or a vindictive State? We will know in a few days.

The Vindictive State, Mian Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi, (our esteemed Chief  Election Commissioner) is not something that Indians will tolerate. I hope you have your history lessons right. If you have been a student of colonial history, which talks of a mythical, supine, Indian population that believes in non-violence, you may get an unpleasant surprise.

And soon!

  1. Nationalist
    August 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Anuraag,
    I think there is a need to make the
    EVM’s Open SOurce.
    That would allow the code to be vetted independently
    and yes a printer is a must!

  2. Galeo Rhinus
    August 22, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Some tangential observations – the public sector – in reality was always a private sector… which allowed losses to be socialized and profits to be privatized. Those were the glory days of socialism which is a more efficient form of capitalism. Socialism is more efficient in plunder than capitalism – because there is overt state involvement. Capitalism is slightly less efficient in achieving the same goals.

    About your proposed solution – to have a print out that goes into the ballot box. This was an intermediate step that some states in the US followed before abandoning the idea all together.

    For the printout alternative to work – the ballot print out needs to be audited by the person who voted – to make sure that what was printed is the same as what he/she voted.

    Paper ballots are a safe, reliable and relatively hard things to doctor. It makes no sense to defend electronic ballots.

  3. August 23, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Publishing the source code may be an invitation for further problems. Instead, the code should be available for:

    1. Audit by any recognized political party.
    2. Inspection and audit by a registered Organization (say like NASSCOM, MAIT), Voter, in existence for 10 years.

    The US Election is a two-trick, collusive pony. It is not even eenie, meanie, myna, mo. Hence, the lessons of US democracy are irrelevant in India.

    With nearly 67 million voters, 10 times the number of US voters and double the US population, with more than 10 significant political parties, with more than 20,000 candidates. The US system is simply too simple for India to learn from.

  4. Galeo Rhinus
    August 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Despite a two trick collusive pony – the FEC in the US was forced to back away from using electronic ballots in several states.

    Sure, Indian democracy is no two-trick pony – but the CEC seems to be above all criticism – hardly representative of democracy! If even a two-trick pony could be forced to back off from a “tricky” ballot – I would have the same or better expectations from India!

    If democracy is to work – the methodology needs to be be understood by each and every voter. Paper ballots is the only method that passes the test.

    These paper ballots could be scanned by machines if necessary – but the voting itself should be a simple paper and pencil or paper and ink based.

  5. August 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    A-ha! 😉

    You mean if the ‘advanced’ US voter cannot get electronic voting, what chance does the ‘uneducated’, ‘illiterate’ Indian Voter have?

    Point noted and taken!

  6. Galeo Rhinus
    August 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    goodness! this complex is obsessive!

    this applies to the US voter or and Indian voter – doesn’t matter!

    I don’t get electronic voting either – since I don’t know what is happening behind the scenes – and I consider myself tech savvy.

  1. August 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

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